Biden administration sides with Florida on Canadian drug imports






The Biden administration contends that because the drug import rule and process was never formally implemented, the pharmaceutical industry is acting too soon with its legal challenge. | Joe Raedle / Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE – President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday night filed a petition in federal court to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at preventing imports of prescription drugs from Canada – a plan Florida is pushing to use.

The Biden administration’s motion essentially sided with Florida and New Mexico, the only other state to have officially started the process for applying for Canadian imports. The motion asks a federal court in Washington to initiate legal action by Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, which represents producers of brand-name drugs, against the Department of Health and Human Services.

The administration argues that because the drug import rule and process was never formally implemented, the pharmaceutical industry is acting too soon with its legal challenge.

“Any future implementation, if it were to happen, may not happen as the applicants speculate. During this time, nothing is required of the members of the applicants. The complaint thus presents “abstract hypotheses or requests for advisory opinions”, specifies the request.

In 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law creating a framework for Florida to import prescription drugs from Canada, a decision that requires federal approval. The initial stages began under the administration of former President Donald Trump, but they now need to be approved by the Biden administration, which DeSantis is increasingly attacking as he positions himself to likely run for president. in 2024.

Supporters of Canada’s import plan say it would disrupt drug markets and lower prices. But the plan is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which has sued federal health agencies, arguing that the plan poses “significant safety risks” and “would generate little or no savings for American consumers.” .

The drug lobby in January also sought to block the Florida plan in particular, saying it would “jeopardize patient safety.”

The idea of ​​importing drugs from Canada has been touted for years by Trump as a way to get cheaper drugs. Policy experts – including Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary – have warned that this will yield little savings for consumers and open up safety questions on imported products. Several progressive Democrats, including Sen. Bernie sanders (I-Vt.) Have also supported the importation of drugs over the years, but the bills have not gained momentum and previous state efforts have stalled without federal support.

Trump unveiled a proposal in July 2019 that would leave it up to states to develop drug import plans that would require buy-in from drug companies and the Canadian government, both of which oppose such measures. DeSantis, a Trump ally, was the first state governor to submit a plan to the federal government, saying the proposal could save more than $ 150 million a year.

But critics argue that surveillance and safety measures to track imported drugs will cut savings and could leave consumers with virtually the same costs. States should also put in place regulatory frameworks that could take years to implement.

“If you put Canadian drugs on a dog sled and steer it to Florida, dogs will arrive way ahead of any drug thanks to this regulatory proposal,” wrote Chris Meekins, a former HHS official from the Trump administration now at Raymond James’ home, in a statement. note to investors.

During Florida’s 2019 legislative session, when the GOP-dominated state legislature was considering a bill to import drugs into Canada, the pharmaceutical industry lobbied strongly against the plan and disseminated opposition television commercials in Florida media markets. Tackling Canadian imports was a dominant issue in that year’s legislative session.

DeSantis held a press conference on Friday urging the Biden administration to approve Florida’s plan to import Canadian drugs.

“I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with my daughter, and I see, oh, Governor DeSantis and his minions want to bring these dangerous drugs from Djibouti or elsewhere. It was nonsense, ”DeSantis said.



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